Niles Dem announces bid for 78thPublished 3:18pm Monday, May 28, 2012
Gerry Welling of Niles seeks the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 7 primary for the 78th District state House of Representatives seat against Jack Arbanas of Buchanan.
Arbanas, a professional pilot, formerly owned Marz Sweet Shop.
The winner faces three Republicans: David Mann of Niles, an Andrews University student who is the youngest-ever Niles City Council member; Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs, chairman of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners; and Brian Savage of Baroda, a food and beverage manager at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.
Republican Sharon Tyler of Niles is leaving after two terms to run for Berrien County clerk. Welling, 40, has never sought elective office before.
“This is my first crack,” he said. “I thought maybe it’s a year for Democrats to make some noise,” though he would prefer to “run as an American, as that is a label I accept wholeheartedly.”
The South Bend native does building inspections for Koorsen Fire and Security, an Indianapolis corporation with a Mishawaka office.
He earned an English degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and writes, including screenplays.
Three items top his list of priorities: making the education system the pride of Michigan; making the area more attractive to business through a balanced and fair incentive package; and leaving a little more money in everyone’s pockets each month by rethinking and reviewing outdated laws and regulations.
“We ought to scrap a lot of them and start over,” he said, just as lawmaking was never intended to be a fulltime business career. “George Washington left office and went back to his farm. We’ve gotten away from that.
“Michigan has term limits. We need them in Washington. Government doesn’t work when you refuse to cooperate. The state House pays very little attention to what goes on in this beautiful area and we need to make them. The honest and hard-working people of southwest Michigan need someone of the same character who truly represents their interests in the statehouse, and I am that person.”
To compensate for lack of political experience, Welling offers two other attributes he possesses — reason and common sense, which “we need more of in government.”
As his conservative father in Indiana said discussing his candidacy, “You will find we have more in common than you think.”
“He’s right,” Welling said. “Using that statement as my motto, I intend to make this district a leader in Michigan. We need to focus on the things that unite us, remove obstacles to achieving our goals and set our minds to making Michigan a destination — for business, for tourism and for good families looking for an exceptional place to raise their children.”
He and his wife, Robyn, are raising five children, from a daughter, 1, up to 21.